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View Full Version : Monotype's New Release of Bembo


Gerry Kowarsky
08-18-2005, 01:52 PM
Has anyone seen the new Bembo Book (http://www.fonts.com/FindFonts/RecentReleases/2005/04-06-2005.htm)? It’s supposed to preserve the design features and overall color of the hot metal version. The Monotype Web site says Bembo Book was designed for setting 10–18 point text in contrast to the first digital Bembo, which was based on 9 point hot metal drawings. Type 1, TrueType, and OpenType Pro versions are available, with extended character and language support in the OpenType Pro version.

Could this be the better Bembo we have been waiting for?

ktinkel
08-18-2005, 05:56 PM
Has anyone seen the new Bembo Book (http://www.fonts.com/FindFonts/RecentReleases/2005/04-06-2005.htm)?Sort of (a specimen).

It sets smaller (narrower, but also more compactly, with a smaller x-height) than the older one (looking at the Monotype/Adobe Type 1). The weight is also heavier, so it looks more definite, less tentative than the older version.

Bembo T1 caps are a bit shorter than the ascenders; Bembo Book Pro caps are shorter still.

So I think they have solved some of the problems — the weakness of the earlier digital version, for sure. But it does not sing to me yet.

Could this be the better Bembo we have been waiting for?So I guess I am not sure.

Michael Rowley
08-19-2005, 08:14 AM
KT:

looking at the Monotype/Adobe Type 1

As I haven't got the existing Bembo font, I've had to look at a 10-line sample (12 pt) of the original Monotype; I think that the new Monotype electronic font captures the original. As I liked the original, I would buy the Book Pro OT version if I had $243 to spare.

Gerry Kowarsky
08-19-2005, 12:39 PM
I'm not sure I like the idea of a smaller x-height, but the heavier weight sounds nice. I might try to approximate the changes you mentioned with the FontChameleon clone of Bembo. Too bad the Ares folks didn't produce a clone of the italic before they sold the company.

In any event, I'm glad Monotype has joined Linotype in providing improved digital versions of classic faces. The high end of the market seems to be healthy.

ktinkel
08-19-2005, 01:58 PM
I'm not sure I like the idea of a smaller x-height, but the heavier weight sounds nice. I might try to approximate the changes you mentioned with the FontChameleon clone of Bembo. Too bad the Ares folks didn't produce a clone of the italic before they sold the company.

In any event, I'm glad Monotype has joined Linotype in providing improved digital versions of classic faces. The high end of the market seems to be healthy.I have a sample of text in this new Bembo Pro copied from the (metal) Bembo section of Stanley Morison’s A Tally of Types, set 16 on 16 point by 27 picas (the same as the original). This was set in InDesign, using metrics, and it replicates the line-breaks of the original exactly.

The justified Tally original has relatively wide word spaces (many look to be an en, and between sentences, an em). Tsk. The ID version has looser letter-fit, and smaller spaces. Its weight (trying to allow for the fact that the sample is a laser print on office paper, the original on creamy laid text stock) looks very similar to the metal.

In contrast, regular old Bembo MT (Type 1) is wider with different word breaks, and the kerning (of apostrophes/quotes, commas, in particular) very different. Most of all, the type looks light, even at 16 point, even though it is better than at 11 or 12 point, which seems unbearably ineffectual.

All of which makes me wonder about careful reproductions (always reminded of the first Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again”). What is the point of reproducing bad word spacing? It was not part of Griffo’s original text for Aldus, certainly — just something from the 1920s, and now pretty much discredited.

Before this, I had not paid a lot of attention to the Bembo pages in Tally. I am shocked at the careless typography. The loose spacing (and, I suspect, avoidance of hyphenation) creates in the 2nd through 8th lines show these sequential breaks (justified, of course; here I only have flush right): in order of historic precedence next to the roman of
Jenson, which is separated from it by an interval of
twenty-five years. Neither the Bembo roman nor the
press for which it was cut enjoys anything like the
praise given to the Eusebius roman and the press of
Nicolas Jenson. Few indeed have found anything to

Very ugly, and obviously unavoidable.

Gerry Kowarsky
08-19-2005, 03:14 PM
All of which makes me wonder about careful reproductions (always reminded of the first Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again”).

Yes, revivals are tricky. I have fond memories of the Bembo used in the original Pelican Shakespeare paperbacks in the late 50s and early 60s. It would be nice if there were a digital font that would produce comparable results.

Still and all, I'm glad the foundries think there is enough of a market to make it worthwhile to produce high end fonts, whether they are revivals like Bembo Book or new ones like John Downer's Paperback. Remember when we were worried that cheap TrueType font collections for Windows 3.1 would kill the font market altogether?

Michael Rowley
08-19-2005, 03:51 PM
KT:

I have a sample of text in this new Bembo Pro copied from the (metal) Bembo section of Stanley Morison’s A Tally of Types, set 16 on 16 point

I think you would have done better to have replicated the sample of 12-point Bembo (set solid) in the second edition of Simon's Introduction to Typography, published be Faber & Faber and printed by the Curwen Press in 1963. There the spacing is immaculate and the print not at all light (don't you think 16 pt is not at all fair for a book text).

I think you've got that book: I haven't got A Tally of Types, but I suspect Morison was a bit of a poseur anyway.